Global News Hour at 6 anchor Sophie Lui became emotional while talking to CKNW talk show host Lynda Steele recently about the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lui joined Steele on her show on Friday to talk about what it’s like to read about those incidents and her own experiences being attacked by racism.
Below is a transcript of the interview. Note: It has been edited for length and clarity.
STEELE: You know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about these racist attacks and how they must feel to the people who are the victims. For myself, being white, the only time I’ve ever felt like a visible minority and faced any kind of discrimination was a vacation once in the Middle East where people would look at you.
I don’t have any experience with this and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be targeted because of your ethnicity.
Sophie Lui is joining us now from Global BC. Sophie, thanks for joining us today.
I just wanted to start by asking you, what do you think, first of all, when you’re covering this? You’re visibly Asian, obviously. Have you ever faced any of this? I mean, it must be really frustrating.
LUI: You know, I was saying to someone earlier that I guess I’ve been naive for a long time and thinking that we were past it. It certainly is something that I experienced when I was younger throughout my childhood, my teenage years, and then as I got older in more subtle ways.
STEELE: When you were younger, how do you think it was? Very blatant?
LUI: Well, lots of name calling mostly. I remember someone spitting in my face and telling me to go back to China. I mean, I was a teenager at the time. So it was a long time ago. But of course, I’ll never forget that.
So, you know, I thought that we were past that. And to see this coming out now, it’s deeply affected me. And I think it was last week or the week before – they’re all blurring right now – but on the 5 p.m. news, I had to read a voiceover, a piece of script, that talked about I think one of the recent incidents where an Asian person was told to go back to where they came from.
And I realized as I was reading this script out loud — luckily I wasn’t on camera at the time — those words just hit me, deep in my core, again. They came back, and it was difficult to say them out loud.
STEELE: You sound emotional.
LUI: Well, I mean, I think we all are right now. Obviously I believe our city is better than this. And these are not isolated incidents, but they’re really not that common. Sadly, they’re more common now.
You know, I feel so proud of being part of this community and being in this country.
It’s difficult to feel like an “other” and at times like this, you feel like an “other.”
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STEELE: Which is so wrong because we’re all human. Everybody’s got a story. Doesn’t matter where your parents are from or where you were from. But we all live here now, and we have to be neighbours and we have to be kind like (provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry) says, because we’re all in a tough spot, especially with this pandemic, and people lashing out at other people who they don’t even know is wrong.
LUI: It is wrong. And I think, I don’t know if you saw Bowinn Ma, the MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale, tweeted out a video and she was really well-spoken. If any of your listeners haven’t seen that, I would encourage you to go to her on Twitter.
She was very articulate about it — that we all have our prejudices. We do, but it’s got to be how you deal with them. I think we all need to own up to our prejudices, to whatever bias we might have, and recognize it within ourselves and then do the work to try to move past those preconceived notions, those misconceptions, those stereotypes.
It’s work we all have to do and maybe this is going to shine a brighter light on that.
With everything that's been going on, I've felt very strongly the need to say something about #AntiAsianRacism during #COVID19 ...so here I am saying it. #bcpoli #BryanAdams #HateIsAVirus pic.twitter.com/j5Yv8J9ver— Bowinn Ma (@BowinnMa) May 13, 2020
I haven’t experienced overt racism personally for a long, long time, other than the odd viewer, I guess, who doesn’t like me for whatever reason. But there’s casual racism, too. And I think we just need to be aware of our own preconceived notions about other people and just be honest with ourselves.
STEELE: It’s like taking a moment to have a gut check. Right? Because I think it is true that you think, “Oh, I’m very open-minded and I am not racist in any way.” And then there can be sort of some subconscious stuff that maybe you’re not even aware of.
And I think one of the keys, aside from being self-aware, is education, because babies are not born racist. Babies do not hate other people. They are taught this. And that’s the key — the children who spit in your face, the people who did stuff like that, they were taught that; they were taught to be mean. They were taught to be racist. That’s where it’s got to stop.
LUI: I feel for parents of kids who are visible minorities and, you know, trying to explain to them why they might face these things later in life, because when they’re little, they don’t face these things.
STEELE: Did your parents ever talk to you about that?
LUI: I’m trying to remember now. Not a lot, no. There’s this idea of the model minority, when you immigrate to Canada or to North America, that you want to show that you deserve to be there and you want to assimilate. You want to be part of the group. You don’t want to cause trouble. So, I don’t know that my mother really thought about it very much. And she — like I did — just sort of brushed it aside.
I don’t think it would have occurred to me to call the police, back then when the guy spat in my face. It was just one of those things. I thought, “Well, that’s what you just deal with.” Now, I wouldn’t deal with it anymore.
STEELE: No, nor should you.
Let me just say this, Sophie. Thank you for being super honest and really brave in your soul there because that was profound. I felt profoundly touched by your honesty. Thank you for sharing that.
LUI: Thank you, Lynda. I apologize for my emotional —
STEELE: Do not apologize. That was the best bit of radio of 2020. Thank you so much, Sophie.
LUI: Thanks, Lynda.
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And thanks to those of you who shared your own stories of racist encounters - I’m so sorry you’ve been made to feel like an ‘other’.— Sophie Lui | 呂婉謀 (@sophielui) May 26, 2020